The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History successfully completed the restoration of the iconic USS James K. Polk SSN 645 nuclear submarine sail, now on permanent display in the 9-acre outdoor exhibition area, Heritage Park.
This truly historic object, measuring 30 feet high by nine feet wide and weighing 53 tons, was acquired by the Museum in 1999, and due to the fact that the Museum’s permanent home had not yet been established, staff and volunteers were not able to proceed with erecting the sail for public display until recently.
Due to the Museum’s qualification for the “Encore Fellowship Program” – a program administered through the United Way, with financial support from Intel, where recently retired Intel engineers were compensated and recruited to work on important community projects – restoration of the James K. Polk sub sail began in the spring of 2014.
“After drafting the project to create a submarine exhibition, we were partnered with Frank Fernando as our new project manager to complete this particular exhibit,” said Jim Walther, Museum Director. “Our partnership with Frank has been wonderful, as he is truly engaged and is enjoying the diversity of work that the Museum offers.”
Under the supervision of Fernando, retired Process Engineer from Intel, and with help from Museum staff, volunteers and various partners - LaFarge for concrete, Coronado Wrecking & Salvage for steel support and J.B. Henderson Construction and Enterprise Builders for excavation - the submarine exhibit was a hub of activity throughout the summer.
Volunteers from Sandia National Laboratories also donated a substantial amount of time and expertise to the project. ___ SNL ‘Skills Based Volunteers’ provided __ hours of welding and painting towards the completion of this extensive project. During “Make a Difference Day,” the largest single-day of volunteering in the country that took place on October 25, 13 SNL volunteers provided 91 hours of service towards the efforts to build benches in the outdoor exhibit area. This endeavor provided necessary rest areas for Museum visitors to comfortably enjoy the 9-acre outdoor exhibit area.
Named after the 11th president of the United States, the USS James K. Polk was commissioned as SSBN 645 in 1966. The James K Polk was later converted into an attack submarine and re-designated SSN 645, making for an illustrious 33-year career.
Completion of this outdoor exhibit took place in November 2014. A dedication ceremony is predicted for sometime in 2015 to acknowledge the legacy of the USS James K. Polk SSBN/SSN 645 and its crew.
Sponsors for the submarine sail restoration include ATK Aerospace and the USS James K. Polk Veterans Association.
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